Can a computer be haunted? Malevolent or maybe only a bit mischievous? Or have I lost my mind? At this point I’m not sure which would be preferable.
Yesterday, my editor, the wonderful Rachel Carrera, sent me the computer files containing the edits for the last twenty or so chapters of Wedding at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort. Immediately upon receiving the files I added them to the “read aloud” document I’d started the night before. (Reading the manuscript aloud is a good way to find clunkiness and other stuff—it also gives me a headache and a sore throat, but that’s another story.)
Knowing that Rachel was sending me the final chapters, I’d painstakingly saved all my previously revised chapters into a new document. In this new document I deleted the editing notes in order to do my read aloud more fluidly. I never deleted the original file with Rachel’s notes. Thank goodness.
As soon as I’d added the newly arrived chapters I settled into my chair with my laptop and a cup of hot tea and began reading the prologue. About halfway down the first page I stumbled onto the word reverberated—a great word, except I’d already incorporated it three paragraphs before.
Rachel had called it to my attention when we first began edits on the book. Of course I didn’t want the word used twice in such close proximity and I’d revised immediately. So, what was it doing in this read aloud version?
I scanned ahead. None of my revisions based on Rachel’s notes were in these pages. Not a single one. I panicked a little. But, hey. This was fixable. I put the read aloud document on a flash drive and took it to Staples for printing figuring it would be easiest to mark it up as I compared it to the editing notes.
Now here’s where it gets weird. I returned home with the printed copies and fired up the computer, opening the files I’d copied from the night before. The file that clearly reads EDITED AND REVISED WEDDING WITH NOTES.
I began marking my printed copy with changes based on the notes. The prologue was fairly easy and I scrolled down the page to substitute a different word for reverberated. But guess what? It had already been revised. The same document I’d copied and pasted the night before clearly had been revised, even though my printed out pages from the read aloud version more closely resembled my first rough draft.
I have wracked my brain for answers. And I know what everyone’s thinking: “Clearly she copied from an unrevised document.” But the thing is, the unrevised document didn’t have notes attached. Notes that I spent a good chunk of time deleting so I could have a clean read aloud copy.
Yes, I’m sure there’s a rational explanation for what happened, for what I did wrong. but I’ll be darned if I know what it is. I hoped that by writing it down I’d have an epiphany. Unless epiphany is spelled H-E-A-D-A-C-H-E, it didn’t work.